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The Day that Changed the World | Words of Jesus

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
April 14, 2022 3:00 am

The Day that Changed the World | Words of Jesus

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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April 14, 2022 3:00 am

When we’re at our best, people may learn from our example. What about when we’re at our worst . . . when we’re not feeling well, or when we’ve suffered great loss? As Jesus hung from the cross – no doubt His darkest hour – he essentially preached a sermon. And today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie shows us just how much we can learn from the Lord’s words. It’s great inspiration from the suffering Savior when each and every word came at a painful price.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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Learn more and sign up at Jesus entered the darkness that I might walk in the light. Jesus was forsaken of God for a time that I might enjoy His presence forever. This is the day when the lost are found. This is the day for a new beginning. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.

Again you hear all the angels are singing. This is the day, the day where life begins. When we're at our best, people may learn from our example. What about when we're at our worst, when we're not feeling well, or when we've suffered great loss? As Jesus hung from the cross, no doubt His darkest hour, He essentially preached a sermon. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie shows us just how much we can learn from the Lord's words.

Great inspiration from the suffering Savior, when each and every word came at a painful price. This is the day, the day where life begins. What do you think of when you think of Easter?

Well, it depends on who you ask. For little children, it's an Easter egg hunt. You've got to go find those eggs, and for others it's pastel colors, Easter outfits. For others, well at least when I was a kid, it was about getting a little baby bunny or chick. They don't do this anymore, but when I was a kid you literally would go find them in pet stores, sometimes even other stores. You could buy these little bunnies or little chicks, I mean they're really adorable, until they turn into full grown chickens and rabbits running around your house.

Chickens do not make good pets, but they do make a great lunch, actually. I heard a story about a teacher that was addressing her Sunday school class on Palm Sunday. She said, well kids, today is Palm Sunday.

Who can tell me what Palm Sunday is all about? A little girl shot up her hand, the teacher called on her. She said, ma'am, Palm Sunday is the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and the people laid palm branches at his feet and said, Hosanna. The teacher was really impressed.

Very good, she said. Now, what is next Sunday? It's Easter Sunday.

Does anyone know what that is about? And the same little girl puts her hand up, the teacher calls on her again. Okay, honey, what's Easter Sunday? That's the day Jesus rose again from the dead. But before the teacher could congratulate her, the little girl continued on to say, but if he sees the shadow, he has to go back in for seven more weeks. You know, I remember when I was a little boy, I went to my mother and I asked her, what is the meaning of Easter? And she said, I don't know. She knew.

She just didn't want to tell me because she was raised as a Christian, went to a Baptist church, heard the word of God many, many times, but my mom was sort of running from the Lord at that stage of her life. Of course, Easter is a celebration of the day that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. This singular event changed everything.

It was literally the day that changed the world. But before there was a resurrection, there was a crucifixion. Jesus was arrested on false charges and sent upon just Pilate. Pilate, wanting to appease the bloodthirsty crowd, gave the order for Jesus to be scourged. And I've told you before about the horrific whipping that would happen to Jesus. They probably used the Roman cat of nine tails, which would rip into the skin and the skeletal tissue, even exposing vital organs. In many cases, people did not survive the scourging, and Jesus took 39 lashes on his back.

It was described as the halfway crucifixion. Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, but he was under political pressure. And he wanted to please the religious leaders, so he called for a basin and he washed his hands. But you can't wash your hands of Jesus Christ. Nor should you let others tell you what to think of Jesus Christ. Pilate should have listened to his wife, because his wife said, I had a dream about this man. Speaking of Jesus, he's a righteous man.

Don't hurt him. And Pilate went through with it anyway. So now Jesus is sent to the cross, and as he hangs there, he makes seven profound statements. Every statement is significant.

Even the order of the statements is significant. Statement number one from the cross was, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Statement number two in response to the words of a thief crucified next to him, who said, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Christ said, verily, verily, or truly, truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise. Then, seeing his mother at the foot of the cross, Jesus said, woman, behold your son.

And seeing John standing next to her, he said, son, behold your mother. Presumably, all the sin of the world was placed upon Christ at this moment. If it wasn't at this moment, it happened at some point where he bore the sins of the world, causing him to cry out, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani, which means, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Then, his fifth statement was, I thirst. His sixth statement was, it is finished. And finally, statement number seven, to the Father, into your hands, I commit my spirit.

Let's go back to statement number one. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. If the first words of Jesus were, my God, my God, why have you forsaken me, it would make sense.

Even if his first words were, I thirst, we would understand. But, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. This reminds us that no one is beyond the reach of prayer. He is literally praying for these soldiers who have nailed him to the cross. He's literally praying for his enemies who have orchestrated this series of events.

He's saying, Father, they have committed a sin that is so horrible, so beyond comprehension, they have no idea how bad it is. You know, it's not easy to forgive people, is it? We've all been wronged. We've all been hurt. We've all been taken advantage of. And the Bible says, forgive.

We're thinking, ah, easier said than done. I love the statement of C.S. Lewis when he said, people think that forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive. I read about a study that was done on forgiveness that found that 75% of those who were pulled believed that God forgave them of their sins.

That's good. But then only 52% said they had forgiven others. See, here's the thing we need to remember. Forgiven people should be forgiving people. Jesus taught us this. He taught us in the Lord's Prayer.

There were to pray, our Father who art in heaven, hallelujah be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us. Is there someone you're harboring bitterness toward? Is there someone you have not forgiven because they have hurt you? Well, you need to forgive. The Bible doesn't suggest forgiveness.

It actually commands it over in Ephesians 4-32. Paul says, be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God through Christ has forgiven you. But listen, forgiveness is not condoning or dismissing someone's bad behavior.

Let me say that again. Forgiving is not condoning or dismissing someone's bad behavior. The fact of the matter is, is when you are forgiving, you're surrendering your right to get even. You're saying, I'm not going to pay that person back, though they deserve to be paid back. And there's something in us that wants to pay back, isn't there?

We love those movies that are all about payback, getting even. But we are to forgive. One person put it this way, and I quote, the first to apologize is the bravest, the first to forgive is the strongest, the first to forget is the happiest.

So forgive and forget and put it behind you, and I promise you will be a much happier person. So here's Jesus hanging on the cross, offering forgiveness to his enemies. Now, initially, these two thieves, and we call them thieves, but in reality, they were probably violent criminals and probably were guilty of murder, insurrection against Rome.

The Romans would have described them as terrorists because they would want to overthrow the Romans. That's why they were hanging on crosses. So initially, we have three men facing death, Jesus and the two others. And the two others join the crowd of mockers at the foot of the cross, crying out, he saved others, let him save himself if he is the Son of God.

Of course, he could have saved himself, but he chose to save others instead of saving himself by dying in their place. So they're mocking Jesus, and Jesus says, statement number one, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. And suddenly, in a moment, one of those criminals believes and turns to Jesus and says, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. This is after he rebuked the other criminals, saying, we deserve what we've gotten, but this righteous man has done nothing wrong.

What caused that man to change so quickly? Hey, maybe it was the gospel track that Pilate fastened to the top of the cross. The statement, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.

The religious leaders say, no, no, no. Say, he said he was the King of the Jews. Pilate said, what I have written, I have written. And it can better be translated, what I've written has been written, and it will always be written. Pilate's saying, I'm not walking that back.

I believe it's true. Maybe he read that, and that made an impression on him. But I think the real thing that moved that thief's heart was when Jesus offered forgiveness.

He had never seen anything like that. It reverberated through his hardened heart, and he believed right there on the spot. That brings us to statement number two, today you'll be with me in paradise.

Wow, talk about getting in under the wire. This is what we would call a deathbed conversion. I've seen quite a few of these in my lifetime. People that were hard to the gospel. People that wanted to hear, did not want to hear what I had to say, or what you had to say, suddenly find out they're critically ill, they're terminally ill, and all of a sudden they want to hear about God.

You know, I think take advantage of that opportunity. I think of coming back to my mom. She was married and divorced seven times, and her last husband was named Bill.

He was never open to the gospel at all throughout his life. Then my mom died, and thankfully she recommitted her life to the Lord shortly before her death. Bill and I didn't have a lot of communication after that. We hadn't talked for a while. Someone said to me, you should go visit Bill.

He's dying. I said, oh, well, I will, but it turned out that I was on my way to a speaking engagement. I was literally on my way to the airport. I said, I'll come and see him when I get back. As I'm driving to the airport, God's Spirit spoke to my heart and said, you go see Bill right now.

Whoom, U-turn. Pulled over to his house, walked into this den where they had set up a hospital bed as he was in hospice care, and I realized this man has not longed for this world. I said, Bill, I know I've shared this with you before, but I'm going to share it with you again. Let me tell you what it means to believe in Jesus so you know you can go to heaven. Do you want to go to heaven, Bill? Yes, he said. I shared the gospel with him. He prayed with me to accept Christ. I got in my car, and I made my plane.

I was so thankful I'd done that. As soon as I landed, I pulled my phone out and got a text. Bill just died. See, right under the wire, is there somebody you know that is close to death, someone you know that needs to hear the gospel? Share the gospel with them.

Don't wait until later. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Emails, letters, and phone calls from listeners are so encouraging to us, and they let us know the effectiveness of these studies. Pastor Greg, this letter has been a long time coming. In 2017, my husband and I lost our 3-year-old son to a sudden onset sickness.

We began asking questions, and no answers seemed to be found. One evening, I was watching TV and came across your message. I was about to change the channel, but something compelled me to watch. You were giving your testimony. The more I watched, the angrier I became, thinking, oh, great, another pastor with a perfect faith in life.

What does he know? At that moment, you began to share about the passing of your son, Christopher. Your testimony saved my life, because for so long, I thought I deserved what had happened to our son because of my disobedience to God's word. But hearing your testimony for God made me realize that God doesn't waste our pain. Then and there, I set my heart on seeking God. I started listening to your podcasts and devotions.

And wouldn't you know it, you were in a series called Hope for Hurting Hearts. I know it was the leading of the Holy Spirit for me to tune in. Thank God for that moment, his perfect timing, grace, and love. And thank you, Pastor Greg. You have done more than you realize. We're so blessed to hear how Pastor Greg's messages have comforted this woman.

Would you like to share a personal story with us? If so, drop Pastor Greg an email and let him know. Send it to

That's Well, today, Pastor Greg is helping us consider the Lord's words as he hung from the cross. Each word is a powerful lesson for us today.

Let's continue. Standing at the foot of the cross is Mary, the mother of Jesus. Imagine the anguish she's feeling at this moment. This is her boy. Her little baby boy that she loved. She taught him to walk, and now his feet are nailed to a cross.

She held those tiny little hands in her hands, and now they have spikes driven through them. He's so beaten and traumatized. Isaiah 53 says, you couldn't even tell he was a man. Her heart is breaking, but she's gonna be strong.

She'll not collapse. And she's looking up at him, and Jesus says, woman, behold your son. And then seeing John the apostle standing next to Mary, he says, son, behold your mother. In other words, take care of my mother, John. Jesus was the firstborn. It was generally the responsibility of the firstborn son in the Jewish family to care for the mother. But now Jesus would not be able to do that.

He gives that responsibility and that privilege over to John. Now comes the moment that Jesus has been dreading. Suddenly the sky turns dark.

From the sixth hour, which is 12 noon, to three o'clock in the afternoon, darkness falls across the land. And some believe this was a universal blackout, darkness over the entire planet. And the darkness is pierced by the voice of Jesus, giving the fourth statement from the cross, which according to Mark, chapter 15, is Eli, Eli lama sabachthani, or my God, my God, why have you forsaken me? No fiction writer would have the hero make a statement like this.

We wonder what he was saying. Jesus was experiencing the greatest loneliness any man has ever experienced. Who was the loneliest man who ever walked the earth? It was Jesus. Especially at this moment, as he was bearing the sins of the world. He had been betrayed by Judas. He had been abandoned by his disciples, but the Father was always with him.

He always knew the Father was there to call upon. He even said in John 16, the hour is coming and has now come when you'll all be scattered each to his own. You'll leave me alone, yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. But now, for a moment, even the Father has to turn his face away as he pours all of his wrath and anger on Jesus Christ, who is dying in our place as a substitute.

It's an incredible moment that took place. It was God's most painful moment. But he must feel forsaken of God because that's a consequence of sin. But listen to this, Jesus was forsaken so I don't have to be. Jesus was forsaken of God so I might be forgiven. Jesus entered the darkness that I might walk in the light. Jesus was forsaken of God for a time that I might enjoy his presence forever. So he was doing that for me. One person put it this way. On the cross, God treated Jesus as if he had lived your life so he could treat you as if you had lived his life.

Isn't that good? Let me repeat it. On the cross, God treated Jesus as if he had lived your life so he could treat you as if you had lived his life.

That's justification, just as if it never had happened. God has done that for you. Now Christ gives his fifth statement from Calvary, the first of a personal nature. He says, I thirst. This was not just a casual thirst. This man is completely dehydrated. And you know when you're dehydrated how bad it can be.

And so he's reaching out and someone offers him something to relieve his thirst and he comes to statement number six. It is finished. By the way, we're told that he cried this out with a loud voice. It is finished. Wasn't like, it is finished.

It is finished. See, this is a man who was in control. Jesus was not a victim. He was a victor. He knew exactly what was happening and he knew exactly why it was happening.

Even though he's been whipped, even though he's been crucified, even though he's facing all this physical pain, he cries out. It is finished. And in the Greek it's one word.

Tetelestai. Not three words, one. Which means it's completed. It's made an end of. It's accomplished.

They would use this word in day to day living. I'll build a table. It's finally done. Tetelestai.

I made you a great meal. It's completed. Tetelestai. Jesus said, I bore the sins of the world.

Tetelestai. It is finished. A new covenant has been established now. I call this the battle cry of the cross. Jesus is effectively saying the war is over. I'm sure these words reverberated through the hallways of heaven as a shout of victory.

And they also reverberated through the corridors of hell as a shout of you are now defeated. God is satisfied. And now his final statement. Into your hands I commit my spirit. The sin of the world has been atoned for. He has looked out for the welfare of his mother. He has borne the sins of the world. He has done it all. Now he says into your hands I commit my spirit. No one took his life. He gave his life.

He laid it down. You know it's interesting that three times on the cross Jesus addressed the father in prayer. Statement number one. Father forgive them for they know not what they do.

Statement number two. My God my God why have you forsaken me? And statement number three of prayer when he says father into your hands I commit my spirit.

This is something we can learn from. We should call on God in the beginning, in the middle, and the end of our life. You know when you're young commit your life to the Lord.

Kids listen to me. You want to live a happy life. You want to live a fulfilled life. You want to live a meaningful life. Commit your life to Jesus Christ and follow him and you'll never regret it.

Right? You'll never regret it. The Bible says remember the creator in the days of your youth. The Bible also says how can a young man, or woman of course, cleanse their way by taking heed according to your word. In other words you want to live a life that matters. Obey the word of God.

He's put those parameters in there for your own protection, for your own good. I became a Christian when I was 17. That's 10 years ago. Plus many more years.

It seems like yesterday. And I've never regretted that decision. You won't either. But then you get to the middle part of your life. Sometimes we have what is called a midlife crisis which is an excuse for acting like an idiot. And then you forget God sometimes. Maybe you've reached goals. Maybe you've been successful.

Maybe you've exceeded your wildest dreams. Don't forget God in the middle of your life. And then you come to the end of your life. And eternity is right around the corner. Make sure you remember the Lord then.

Jesus called on the Father at the beginning, and the middle, and the end. Important encouragement from Pastor Greg Laurie. Today on A New Beginning, we're examining the seven statements from Jesus on the cross and how they apply to our lives even here in 2022.

And there's more to come in this message. Well, it's such a privilege to have best-selling author Lee Strobel with us today. He's a former atheist and the former legal editor of the Chicago Tribune.

In 1981, he gave his heart to Christ and for over 40 years has been telling people about the Lord. And his new book is called The Case for Heaven. So Lee, you're still though, you know, you still have a great mind.

You're still an intellectual, but you're a theologian now too. So you've brought these skills to the study of heaven. And I think it's hard for people to wrap their mind around heaven. And there's caricatures of it in films, you know, like It's a Wonderful Life.

People watch it every Christmas or even cartoons or songs and art. You know, so give us a few thoughts about maybe something you learned about heaven that you didn't know before or something that impacted you about the afterlife. Yeah, a couple of things. I think that when you look at Jesus and what he talked about when he talked about heaven, he painted the picture to his disciples of heaven being a home. And so it made me think, you know, like you, I've traveled around the world and often in very difficult situations. I remember being in India and, you know, sleeping on the ground and living out of a knapsack and missing home. You get homesick, you begin to long for home. And then when you finally get home, you know, weeks and months later, you finally get home and you walk in the door and it's such a place of warmth and love and security and you get in your own bed and it feels so good. And I think Jesus said, that's the image I want you to keep in your mind. Heaven is our home and those qualities of love and security and grace. And so when we think of home, we ought to think of those things when we think of heaven. And somebody else said something to me recently that I thought was really kind of profound. He said, you know, heaven is kind of like having a vacation on your calendar.

I said, what do you mean by that? He said, you know, when things are hard at work, when you're working long hours and customers are difficult and your boss isn't breathing down your neck and the money's not coming in and things are hard, when you've got a vacation on your calendar coming up in a few months and you go, you know what, I'm going to Hawaii, I'm going to Maui in a couple of months with my wife and just knowing that's on the calendar helps you get through the tough times. And heaven is like that. It's like having something on the calendar, we don't know the date, but in our future that can help us get past the difficult times in this life because we say, yeah, it is hard, it is difficult, but you know what, I'm going to heaven.

And it's going to be wonderful and beautiful and like a home, like I've never experienced it, and just having that in the future I think gives us courage and gives us perspective in dealing with the present. That's Lee Strobel you're hearing from, everyone, and he has a brand-new book out called The Case for Heaven, subtitled A Journalist Investigates Evidence for Life After Death, and we're sending it to you for your gift of any size this month. Yeah, that's right, and your gift enables us to keep bringing Pastor Greg's studies your way, and they also help us reach out far and wide with the Gospel. For instance, Pastor Greg and the team will be in Boise, Idaho, April 23rd and 24th for Boise Harvest. Powerful Gospel messages, and your investments help us reach out like that. Our mission statement is knowing Him and making Him known, and we appreciate your partnership in that important objective. You can donate today by calling 1-800-821-3300.

That's a 24-hour phone number, 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or go online to Well, next time Pastor Greg offers some important insights on the Lord's resurrection and all it accomplishes for us, even today. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. Go to
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